How do we care for the people AND drive for results?

KarenBusiness success, Company Culture

There’s an ever-widening gap happening in the world of work, at least based on my small sample of conversations and observations – and it seems to be a gap no one is willing to solve.

As we’ve progressed through all of the upheaval and change that’s gone on this past few years I hear a lot of talk about how we need to care for the people. Be kind and compassionate to the people. Understand the challenges being handled by the people. Trust the people. Appreciate the people. Give the people the flexibility they need.

But those people better deliver.

I’m hearing huge verbal acknowledgement that we as humans have been deeply affected by the events of the past few years (a “blinding glimpse of the obvious,” am I right?). But I say “verbal” because that acknowledgement doesn’t seem to be matched by a willingness to adjust the business expectations with the real capacity of the people.

I hear leaders saying all the right things but changing nothing fundamental, and then being confused when people still choose to leave (or worse, burn out).

Why are people choosing to leave? Because they can’t and won’t try to function the way they “used to” – and yet the expectations are still what they “used to” be. A massive, increasingly tragic disconnect that can only have serious negative consequences.

(Despite a degree in Economics) I’m no expert on how markets work, but I’m pretty sure that publicly-traded companies really don’t want to disappoint their shareholders.

VC- and PE-funded companies don’t want to disappoint their investors.

Privately held companies? I presume you’ve got more choices.

But if our collective “success” is driven firstly by financial performance, with no corresponding consideration for the human cost of achieving those targets, who have we become?

Who will be the first CEO to stand in front of their AGM and announce that this year’s results will be lower than expected because the company opted to ensure its people are healthy and thriving?

I truly don’t have answers here. I just want to use whatever voice and platform I have to ask organizations to please take a hard look at whether what you’re asking of your people is aligned with how they’re able to function.

We’ve all had a rough few years. The ripples continue.